Asdrubal Cabrera continues to amaze, smacking a two-run homer into the Coca Cola Corner to put the Mets on the board in the first inning last night.
It was the 21st blast of the season for Cabrera and his 20th as a shortstop in 2016, surpassing Jose Reyes‘ 19 homers in 2006 for the most home runs by a Mets shortstop in a single season.
Three of Cabrera’s last eight home runs dating to August 26 have come with no outs in the first inning. Cabrera is batting .358 (39-109) in his 31 games since coming off the DL on August 19 and he has a .923 OPS in the second half of the season.
Original Article – Sep 13
One of the most underrated stories of this roller coaster of a season so far is the outstanding play and veteran presence of first year Met shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. An under the radar signing in early December of 2015 after failing to acquire Ben Zobrist and, along with Neil Walker, revamping their up the middle defense which was porous to say the least during the Mets World Series run last October, ‘Cabbie’ has been more than just a solid fielder. His offense has been one of the season’s pleasant surprises and his consistency and leadership truly are an inspiration.
When Daniel Murphy was not retained by the New York Mets, a void was not only left in the middle of the Mets lineup, but also on the top step of the Mets dugout. Anyone who watched the Mets during Murphy’s tenure knows that he was one of the best teammates anyone could ask for. Murphy never stopped rooting for his teammates and was often the first to meet not only a triumphant player after a home run, but a struggling player with an inspirational message or supportive gesture. Cabrera has picked up where Murph left off and has been more than the Mets bargained for.
Despite being hobbled with an ailing knee, Asdrubal has been as steady and consistent as ever. He has himself stated, that if the Mets were not in a pennant race, he would be resting his balky knee. He is suffering from a strained patellar tendon that is likely causing him pain in the front of his lower knee whenever he puts significant weight on the area. Twisting, running, pivoting as well as quick stops and starts can exacerbate the pain.
If you watch him play, however, you would never know. Being lucky enough to be sitting on the Mets dugout for the Saturday and Sunday games this past weekend, I can vouch first hand for just how much this is bothering him. After his triple in the first inning of yesterday’s contest, he was doubled over with his hands on his knees and constantly manipulating the area. What he did not do, or even slightly allude to, was look into the dugout for a coach or a trainer. His back was turned to his dugout, and no trainer was summoned.
In a year filled with an almost comical lineup of injuries, Cabrera refuses to be another casualty. Yes, he had a DL stint this past August after exiting the July 31st game vs the Dodgers when he almost could not run under his own power to score a run. However, since his likely premature return, he has thrived. Since his return on August 19th, Asdrubal has raised his average 20 points and is hitting .384 with six home runs and 15 RBI in 22 games over 19 starts. His slugging percentage is at a career high .466 and he has helped the Mets accrue the most home runs in franchise history between their shortstop/second base combo.
Cabrera is doing all this offensively, while playing a steady and proficient shortstop defensively with only six errors (career low pace for a full season) constantly making the routine and not so routine plays in the hole the likes of which we have not seen since his current left side of the infield mate Jose Reyes patrolled that area on a daily basis.
In addition to his on the field game, his leadership impact can not be quantified. Despite a painful knee, he is never hesitant to climb the dugout steps to remove a teammates helmet after a homerun, a custom Met fans have embraced. He is setting an example for young players by not only playing through pain, but thriving. He is suffering in silence and asking for no leniency or special accommodations. He is wincing, limping, and at some points hobbling as he leads this club by example down the stretch.
The quintessential example of this was on Sunday’s game in Atlanta. Logging seven innings in the field in what had become a blowout laugher, Cabbie came to bat in the top of the 8th with a runner on. In his fifth at bat of the day, with his team enjoying an eight run cushion, he flew out to left field. Despite already tallying three hits and with his team likely having one foot on the flight to DC, Asdrubal slammed his bat down in frustration and screamed audibly loud enough for me to hear despite being a couple of hundred feet away.
In a day where all professional sports are changing to make things more soft and friendly, Cabrera is an old school throwback – a tough player that is the purest definition of the term “gamer”. Hopefully his young teammates are taking note and trying to emulate his propensity to play baseball the right way and COMPETE, regardless of circumstances.